U.S. stocks end with slight loss; tech gains
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks ended Monday's light-volume session slightly lower as enthusiasm for tech stocks limited losses and as investors focused on weak Japanese economic data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closed down 38.52 points, or 0.3%, at 13,169.43, with five of its 30 components closing higher. Earlier, it traded as low as 13,112.94, or down 0.7%.
The S&P 500 index (SPX) snapped its longest winning streak since December 2010, and closed down 1.76 points, or 0.1%, at 1,404.11. Earlier, the index fell 0.6% to touch an intraday low of 1,397.32. Prior to Monday, the S&P 500 had finished higher six trading sessions in a row.
The tech sector was the only S&P 500 industry group out of 10 to finish the day higher, with financials flat on the day. Read more on tech stocks.
Also, Google has agreed to buy Frommer's travel guide brand from John Wiley & Sons for an undisclosed sum.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (COMP) broke into positive territory in the last minute of trading for a gain of 1.66 points, or less than 0.1%, to finish the day at 3,022.52. Earlier, the index was down 0.7% for an intraday low of 2,999.12.
Volatility was low with the CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) closing down 7.1% to 13.70.
Investors chose a slow news day to cash out some of their gains from the past several weeks, said Doug Sandler, chief equity officer at RiverFront Investment Group.
With Monday's U.S. economic data calendar empty, investors were prompted to focus on developments overseas, such as Japan's disappointing GDP data.
"[Japan's] a mild headwind absent any macro news," Sandler said. "It's two steps forward, one step back."
Japan's gross domestic product expanded at an annualized 1.4% in the second quarter, while economists expected 2.7% growth. The data pointed to a significant slowdown from the 5.5% growth posted in the first quarter. Read more on Asia markets.
The significant improvement in equities over the past five weeks is giving many investors pause, according to Ken Tower, chief investment strategist at Quantitative Analysis Service. On average, U.S. stocks are up about 3% to 4% over the past month alone.
"Investor expectations are a little ahead of themselves," Tower said. "They're waiting for another round of evidence that the economy is picking up."
That evidence could come Tuesday in the form of retail-sales data, which will be the first piece of substantial U.S. data out this week, along with a slew of big retailer earnings beginning with
Decliners outnumbered advancers for New York Stock Exchange shares amid very weak volume. NYSE composite volume topped 2.47 billion shares, versus a 3.54 billion average August volume, and Nasdaq composite volume exceeded 1.33 billion shares. The August average is 1.74 billion, according to Barclays.
In Europe, Italy sold 8 billion euros ($9.9 billion) of 12-month Treasury bills, with yields edging higher compared to a previous auction, but demand was robust. Read more about the Italian bond auction.
The euro (EURUSD) climbed against the dollar to $1.2334 following reports that another lawsuit has been filed in Germany questioning the legality of the European Stability Mechanism. The new filing could possibly delay a constitutional court ruling on the fund expected in mid-September. Read more on currencies.